Robin Mizell Ltd: 2011 agency statistics

Four months ago, I started thinking about my agency’s annual statistics, wondering how many manuscripts I typically need to read in order to find a new client. Now, the results for 2011 are in. As it turns out, I read 14 full manuscripts last year and, from that selection, offered to represent one new client.

The other relevant statistic is the number of contacts with writers that led me to ask for the opportunity to read those 14 full manuscripts. All told, there were 300 contacts—in the form of queries submitted to my agency, pitches at writers’ conferences that inspired me to ask for queries or manuscripts, my inquiries sent to writers whose work I admired, and referrals from authors and publishers.

Let me break it down to make it easier to visualize:

  • 300 writers asked me, or were asked if they’d like me, to consider their work
  • 14 (4.66%) of those writers were invited to send me their full manuscripts
  • 1 (0.33%) then became my client

2011 agency statistics

As it turns out, the numbers change from year to year, because I don’t always solicit queries continuously from January through December, yet the percentages remain roughly the same. In 2009, the bottom line was 0.5%. In 2010, it was 0.36%. In 2011, it was 0.33%. There’s some logic apparent.

There might also be a bit of hidden logic, though I hope I don’t live to regret the suggestion. It appears that after I’ve been working with a client for a year or two, it becomes more profitable to invest my time in that client’s career (licensing subsidiary rights, coaching on marketing and self-promotion, etc.) than it would be for me to spend the same amount of time searching for a new client to add to my agency’s roster. However, there’s a catch. This particular cost-benefit analysis holds true only if the existing clients happen to be as talented and productive as mine are!

Which brings the logic back around, full circle, to the reason my clients are, shall we say, the less than one percent.

(OK, I just couldn’t resist.)

3 Replies to “Robin Mizell Ltd: 2011 agency statistics”

  1. Robin, I always enjoy reading your annual report and find it interesting. It tells me a lot about what goes on behind your eyes.

  2. What goes on behind my eyes might not be flattering. (laughing)

    Because literary agents, acquiring editors, and book publishers say no far more often than we say yes, it appears as though we take some sort of satisfaction in rejecting writers’ work. Actually, we’re merely oriented to getting past the things we find a reason to say no to, in order to spend more time on the things we say yes to.

    Working with an author is a big investment on my part, but naturally, that part of the process is hidden from most people, and for good reasons.

  3. You don’t fool me. You have a big heart!

    AND I rather suspect that heart enters into your work with your authors more than you might allow it to show! :-) Even with those you reject!

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